By Mat Patterson
Customer success is not a consideration limited to the support team. Regardless of title, every employee working toward solving customer problems should focus on customer success. In most cases, customer success is measured by customer retention and satisfaction. If customers are staying — and they’re happy — the customer success strategy in place is working. But if customers are leaving or sharing consistently negative feedback, it might be time to look for opportunities to improve. The first places to look? Consider content, consistency and connection.
Content That Adds Value, Not Just Clicks
The modern approach to providing a successful customer experience is an integrated effort of sales, support and marketing. Many people believe that “content is king,” and focus on creating materials to generate clicks, shares and site traffic. But in reality, content only benefits a customer if it’s actually helpful to them — not just popular with others.
When deciding what kind of content will be valuable, first identify target audiences and then spend time listening to their problems and goals. That research will not only inform the focus of the content, but will also ensure that it will resonate with the target personas. After listening to customers, content producers should rethink their content strategy and find new ways to communicate valuable information to customers.
Consistent Voice and Message
While content needs to be helpful and clear for customers, the language and tone used to share knowledge must be consistent for each customer interaction. Repeated and uniform customer experiences help establish a customer’s confidence in a company, as they begin to trust that each touchpoint will be dependably delightful. Companies should develop a style guide to serve as a framework for all communications with customers. The style guide should outline the company’s brand voice, and specify language to use and avoid when writing or speaking with customers.
Style guides do not need to be limiting — they should encourage quality, not inhibit creativity. Ritz-Carlton successfully inspired creativity and ensured quality by developing a customer experience handbook. The founding president and CEO created an aspirational identity for all Ritz-Carlton employees. The handbook includes language to be used when speaking with guests, as well as information on how to delight customers. In addition to legacy brands like Ritz-Carlton, today software startups Buffer and Mailchimp both provide voice and tone guides to their employees, offering guidelines and best practices for delighting customers.
Genuine, Human Connection Can Make the Difference
Customer success can be measured using a variety of metrics — retention, customer feedback, net promoter score. According to research conducted by Twitter, personal customer service experiences increase retention and satisfaction by about 20 percent. Sometimes, even extra touches like exclamation points and emoticons can enhance a customer’s experience. Campaign Monitor found that 67 percent of agent responses with the highest satisfaction ratings included at least one exclamation point, 20 percent included multiple exclamation points and 23 percent included both an exclamation point and a smiley face emoticon. These extra human touches, combined with a personalized, quick response have the power to resolve support issues quickly, but also lets a customer know that he or she is valued and understood.
OpenSesame, an e-learning marketplace, understands that the human touch is essential from the first interaction. Their customer support team uses one-on-one communication tools and prides themselves on answering customer inquiries in under 15 seconds for live chat and under 15 minutes for email. OpenSesame is also committed to approaching customers with empathy, which studies show is an essential part of maintaining high customer satisfaction. As a result of OpenSesame’s fast-response time and empathetic approach to customer support, their customers feel like they’re being listened to and appreciated — that their issue is a priority.
Companies looking to build customer loyalty and satisfaction can use helpful content, consistent voice and human connection to deliver an experience that keeps people coming back.
Mathew Patterson is the Customer Evangelist at Help Scout, a help desk software company that powers customer support for over 6,000 companies around the world. He is responsible for building strong relationships with customers, and helping companies foster loyalty among their own customers through delightful customer support experiences. Connect with Mat on Twitter @mrpatto.